Having spent the last 12 years working in a large purpose built studio in rural Kilkenny, Ireland, O'Donoghue is now dividing his time between his London studio and the Atlantic coast of North Mayo in the west of Ireland. This exhibition presents O'Donoghue's first works to be completed in his new studio in London.
The painter Van Gogh on the road to Tarascon and a RAF Navigator on route to bomb the city of Cologne in 1944, these two seemingly unrelated and disparate events become connected in Hughie O'Donoghue's new exhibition The Geometry of Paths. A major new painting, The Yellow Man, re imagines the lost Van Gogh painting of the artist walking the Tarascon road whilst a complimentary sequence of paintings Red Letter Days depict the nocturnal journeys of a pathfinder bomber over the increasingly devastated cities of Europe.
The exhibition title also references the numerous connections that lead to any point in time and the unexpected links that bridge time and place, the cyclical nature of history and our ability, or lack of ability, to recognise and learn from the past.
Once again place, connection to place and the dynamics of change are major preoccupations. O'Donoghue's recent physical change of working space, and the mental shift of position it has entailed, has naturally impacted on his new paintings.
Physically these paintings on canvas consist of many layers and films of oil pigment. They are worked and re-worked, excavated over time, producing a physically rich and resonant surface that bears testimony to the process of their evolution. There is a commitment and belief in the unique poetic potential of painting.
Over the last decade photography has played an important role in O'Donoghue's works. This has extended from the artist's initial use of found and documentary imagery to recent paintings where the painted image incorporates within its surface photographic compositions set up by the artist in the land around his studio in Ireland. These new paintings in The Geometry of Paths seek to move the process forward again in that O'Donoghue has retained photography as an image source but has re engaged with the more elemental problems of abstracting imagery from the practice of painting itself.
Photography has also often been used by O'Donoghue to give access to his source material and a number of publications which have his own written text have sought to illuminate the subject matter of bodies of work rather than provide a commentary on the works themselves. These 'complimentary' photographic texts are developed in parallel to the process of making the paintings and illuminate the works in a way that no distanced observation could.
The exhibition The Geometry of Paths is accompanied by a new publication, which includes a new photo/text by the artist and also an essay by James Hyman which places O'Donoghue's work within a broader international context.
Hughie O'Donoghue is represented by James Hyman Gallery
© 2021 James Hyman Gallery, PO Box 72888,
LONDON N2 2FH